I hate to contradict someone but sometimes when inaccuracies I must...
Here's the skinny... they can disclose this information but most agent's don't realize this because they haven't really read and understood the contracts that they are presenting to their client's to sign.
If the agent and the client have both read the Disclosure and Consent for Representation of more than one Buyer or Seller (CAR Form DA) it clearly states that unless the Seller instructs their representative in writing, the number and value of an offer received for the seller's property can be divulged.
What a seller's agent is not allowed to do is tell a prospective buyer or buyer's agent the least amount that the seller would be willing to accept.
When you are representing a buyer, the buyer's agent would be allowed to tell a seller the amount and number of offers a buyer had, again provided that the buyer has not instructed their agent not to do so in writing. What the buyer's agent wouldn't be allowed to do is tell a seller or a seller's agent the highest dollar value a buyer would be willing to pay.
It all comes down to fiduciary duty and compromising the position of a client. Basically, we are not allowed to do things that would be detrimental to our client.
Since the name of the game when you are representing the seller of a property is to try to get your client(s) the highest and best offer for their home, by not telling people what is on the table, plain and simple, you are not doing your job. Again, unless you are instructed otherwise in writing by your client, every offer must be presented and it does no one, buyer or seller, any good to have offers generated that can't be accepted.
By not telling people that an offer of blah-blah amount with the following terms or conditions has been made you are not giving the buyer the opportunity to match or exceed the offer on the table.
Basically, all Real Estate transactions boil down to a pretty simple concept, if both parties agree to it, unless it violates Local, State or Federal law, it's allowed. The entire transaction is about agreement. In its simplest form, it works like an ebay auction (with the addition of 10's of 1,000's of $ and about two inches of paper on average :-).
When you go to make a bid on an item at an ebay auction you see the opening bid amount (what the seller "lists" the item for) and you see the amount of the current highest bid amount (the offer). What you don't see is how much each bidder (buyer) is willing to pay or, in the case of a reserve auction, how little the seller is willing to accept until that amount is reached.
Same thing in real estate, you find out how much a buyer is willing to pay via the amount they offer and if their offer price is countered, their willingness to up the amount. And, you find out how little a seller is willing to accept by their ultimate acceptance of an offer (this pertains only to a Standard sale or an REO, with Short Sales the rules are a little different as the seller can accept multiple offers but, provided that the proper paperwork is provided, is not bound by this until lender acceptance is also reached).
So, as you can now see, the rules are actually pretty clear and are spelled out in gleaming black and white on one of the many contracts and agreements you will sign when you enter into a real estate transaction. All you have to do is read them :-)
I wish I knew which particular Real Estate Fairy was sprinkling this particular misconception about like glitter because I sure do run into it alot.
One more thing, since you describe yourself as a buyer, I want to give you (and any other person entering into the market as either a buyer or a seller for that matter) a word of advice. READ YOUR CONTRACTS! EVERY SINGLE, SOLITARY WORD! And, if you run into something that you don't understand, don't skip it or try to bluff your way through, ask your agent for clarification and to explain it to you. If they can't or if you still don't fully grasp the concept, as them to get their broker to help you.
These contracts were carefully crafted and every word represents the blood, sweat and tears of those who have gone before, don't add to the sea of despair by not knowing what you are signing. And, if you find that the agent you are working with can't or won't explain what you are being asked to sign to you, DON'T SIGN IT (and you might consider getting another representative who can and will).
-continued on next answer- :-)
i'm not a realtor and i actually am impressed with mine. I tell you, my feeling (right or wrong) is that at this time it is a negotiation tool used to squeeze a bit more blood out the turnip. I don't know about the North Hollywood area, but I do know the area I am considering. I have so far put in offers on two houses with almost identical floor plans and structures. both built in 1926, but what i imagine was the same builder. Even found a reprint of a book that has the house plan in it. I am now looking at three other with pretty similar floor plans, again ALL built in 1926. One is actually a repo that i can get dirt cheep on price, but is not quite at that magic number to make gut say buy. Not only can i compair apples to applies, but mine all appear to be MacIntosh.
My advice, unless you are emotionally attached to that home or can't find another MacIntosh apple to alter, be sure to tell your realtor to let their realtor know that while you are very interested in their house, there are many others that you are also considering. Additionally that their willingness to deal fairly with you will go along way in the negotiating a fair price for both sides. This IS a buyer's market after-all. I, personally, do not have time nor the energy to get jerked around.
IE don't be afriad to walk on your deal of a life time.
If you're the one making the offer, would you want other buyers to know what you'd offered so they could outbid you?
One of the most important things that a Real Estate Agent or Realtor brings to the party is supposed to be an indepth knowledge and understanding of the contracts involved in the transaction. In my opinion, if they don't know this pretty simple rule, then they haven't read and understood the contracts themselves and they don't know enough to be taking someone else's money for the job.
Hope that helped! Take care,
Tisza Major-Posner, Realtor, DRE#01784679, IVPG (909) 837-8922